Trump comments on Kavanaugh allegation for the first time

Last Updated Sep 17, 2018 3:46 PM EDT

President Trump commented on the sexual misconduct allegation against his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh for the first time on Monday, calling Kavanaugh one of the “finest” people he’s ever met but expressing openness to delaying the vote on him.

Mr. Trump made the comments at the President’s National Council for the American Worker meeting at the White House, after Palo Alto University professor Christine Ford came forward with her allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when the two were both in high school. Kavanaugh has flatly denied the allegation. 

Mr. Trump called Kavanaugh “one of the finest people” anyone has ever known in response to reporters’ question about him. The president said Kavanaugh had “never had even a little blemish.”

Mr. Trump said the FBI has vetted Kavanaugh multiple times, calling the judge “very special.”

“He’s an outstanding intellect. An outstanding judge. Respected by everybody,” the president told reporters. “Never even had a little blemish on his record. The FBI has I think gone through a process six times with him over the years where he went to higher and higher positions. He is somebody very special. At the same time, we want to go through a process. We want to make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right.”

“I wish the Democrats could have done this a lot sooner, because they had this information for many months,” he continued. “And they shouldn’t have waited ’til literally the last days. They should have done it a lot sooner. But with all of that being said we want to go through the process. One thing I will say is that as I understand it, Judge Kavanaugh spent quite a bit of time with Senator Feinstein and it wasn’t even brought up at that meeting and she had this information. So you would have thought certainly that she would have brought it up at the meeting – not wait til everything’s finished and then have to start a process all over again.”

But Mr. Trump said they want to go through the process correctly, and said Democrats should not have waited until the final days of his process. 

Asked if he’d be willing for a delay in the vote — the Senate Judiciary Committee is supposed to take up a vote on Thursday — Mr. Trump said that depends on the process, saying “if it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay”

“It depends on the process,” the president said. “I’d like to see a complete process. I’d like everybody to be very happy. Most importantly I want the American people to be happy because they’re getting somebody that is great. I want him to go in at the absolute highest level. And I think to do that you have to go through this. If it takes a little delay it’ll take a little delay.”

Some Republicans have suggested they want to hear from Ford before moving forward with a scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Thursday. But so far, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has yet to say he’s even considering delaying the vote. Grassley did say he’s looking to schedule follow-up calls with Ford and Kavanaugh. All 10 Democrats on the committee signed a letter urging Grassley to delay the vote

Kavanaugh has been unequivocal in denying Ford’s accusation, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters after speaking with Kavanaugh Monday that Kavanaugh claimed he was not even at the party in question. 

“This is a completely false allegation,” Kavanaugh said in a statement Monday morning. “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday. I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”

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